Tony Abbott dumps 'Father of the House' Philip Ruddock as chief government whip

Philip Ruddock. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made changes in the wake of his “near death experience” leadership spill on Monday, but not the ones many expected and wanted.

This afternoon he dumped the lower house’s longest-serving MP, Philip Ruddock, as Chief Government Whip, replacing him with Queensland MP Scott Buchholz, who entered parliament in 2010.

When Abbott stared down Monday’s spill vote, Ruddock, a former Howard government minister, was the MP responsible for organising and announcing the results of the ballot.

As chief whip, he is responsible for mustering party troops and acting as a conduit between the backbench and senior party figures. In the wake of the surprising strength of dissent, with 39 MPs voting in favour of the spill, some of the PM’s supporters placed part of the blame for the insurrection on Ruddock.

Abbott described Buchholz as “highly regarded within the party room” in a statement issued late on Friday.

Bunbury MP Nola Marino continues as Government Whip, with former Army officer and Tasmanian MP Andrew Nikolic also also appointed as a Government Whip, most likely to restore discipline within the fractious party’s ranks.

In paying tribute to Ruddock, the Prime Minister said he “remains an important counsellor for Coalition members of parliament”.

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